Alabama gaming expansion efforts face a steeper uphill battle following Governor Robert Bentley’s (R) resignation, a staunch supporter of authorizing a state lottery and reducing gaming restrictions.
Amid a public scandal that included allegations of an affair with a senior advisor and the misuse of state funds, Bentley, aka the “Luv Guv,” stepped down from his governorship after cutting a deal with state lawmakers. Bentley agreed to forfeit his retirement benefits, pay $50,000 in fines, and perform 100 hours of community service.
Bentley’s departure comes at a bad time for Alabamans who want to see gaming expanded in the state. In an executive order last year, Bentley declared that local police agencies, not the state, should decide how to regulate gambling.
One of just six states in the US without a lottery, Bentley had advocated for the authorization of games of chance in order to raise money for the state. The governor, who was in his second term, said he had done everything in his power to cut spending, but expenditures continued to outweigh tax income.
Alabama is home to three slots-only tribal gaming facilities owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The state also has a simulcast greyhound racing facility, named VictoryLand, that has an accompanying gaming floor featuring about 500 electronic bingo machines.
Every Bill Ends With Kay
Kay Ivey, who previously served as Alabama’s lieutenant governor, replaced Bentley this week. One of her main initiatives is economic development, but she believes that should come from manufacturing industries.
That’s why with less than a dozen session days remaining in the Montgomery capital, the legislature isn’t expected to act on any gaming measures. In addition to trying to legalize a lottery, three daily fantasy sports (DFS) bills were recently introduced.
When it comes to gaming expansion, Democratic leaders say no progress will be made until the GOP loses its strong majority. That likely won’t come anytime soon. Republicans control 72 of the House’s 105 seats, and 26 of the Senate’s 35 positions.
Kay hasn’t expressed any public positions when it comes to a potential lottery or gaming expansion, though she’s only been in office for 48 hours. However, as a former treasurer of Alabama, Kay is more than aware of the state’s mounting fiscal problem.
President Donald Trump certainly won’t be mourning Bentley’s ousting. During the 2016 campaign, the former governor said he wasn’t going to vote for his party’s candidate in the presidential election due to Trump’s “hot mic” comments made during a taping of “Access Hollywood” in 2005.
“I don’t have a pattern of being derogatory and degrading women,” Bentley said last fall. “I just don’t have that attitude and I don’t think the leader of this country ought to have that attitude.”
Bentley later jumped aboard the Trump train after he defeated challenger Hillary Clinton. Bentley attended the 45th president’s inauguration in DC in January, with his alleged mistress Rebekah Caldwell Mason and her husband.